Monday, December 28, 2009
I forced myself to just listen. I wanted to rush in to be a part of the activity, but I stayed, making mental notes about what I heard.
It was the sound of a home. The sound of family. It was the sound of those who enjoyed being where they were.
So aware of my blessings, I thanked God for the noises.
Well, this morning there was silence.
I usually love the quiet in the morning as I prepare my heart for the day. But, not this morning.
Christina and Zach left on Thursday – Christmas Eve- to be with Christina’s family in MI.
Yesterday Josh, Lauren and Ruth began their long ride back to Montana.
So, in the silence I sat quietly… thinking.
It was a wonderful Christmas filled with those we love - ones we aren’t able to see often enough and others that we get to see regularly.
The five of us rang bells for Salvation Army at a local grocery one morning.
On a quiet evening, we all ventured out for a snowshoeing hike in our back yard, while Lauren’s supper baked in the oven.
There was a loud game of Pit with friends of Josh and Lauren’s, Larry & Laura from Camp Forest Springs.
We went on a final shopping run and found great deals on desired gifts.
There was a fire going in the fireplace while we watched a Christmas movie.
We also went to an extended family gather at a local town hall with many of my aunts and uncles from my Dad’s side of the family. It’s there that the traditional raw beef and onions was enjoyed by many.
There was time spent at both of our parent's homes to celebrate and enjoy being together.
There was the Christmas Eve service at church that ends with nothing but candles lighting the room while we sing Silent Night. Faces glowing all around reflecting the light.
Dale made Belgian waffles for breakfast before opening our gifts.
There was little Ruth to play with and enjoy watching.
It was a wonderful week.
My “nest” is empty but my heart is full.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
For many years as our boys were growing up, we celebrated Advent. It starts the 4th Sunday before Christmas. Each night around the dining room table there were verses recalled and read as a candle was lit - each week lighting one more. Our candle holder was a wooden bird where candles fit into the ends of the pieces which where the feathers. It was made by our nephew, Jason.
The boys were eager to volunteer to light a candle and recall it's meaning of how God proved Himself faithful in providing the promised Messiah. All other lights in the house were off. Only the candles dimly lit the room. Verses were read from the book of Isaiah. We then sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel, each week adding another verse. Christmas Day, the fifth and final candle was lit. We no longer sang the haunting words and melody of Emmanuel. It was now the time to celebrate answered prayer. So the song became Joy to the World the Lord Is Come!
Holding hands around the table, we ended our time in prayer. I think the boys enjoyed blowing the candles out as much as lighting them.
Dale and I haven't really celebrated Advent since they've been gone. I don't know where the bird candle holder is since we moved 5 years ago. And more of a loss, I don't know where the book "Let's Celebrate" has disappeared to. It was a book that gave ideas for celebrating many holidays as a family and had the verses which we used each year for Advent. It also had a photo of Zach, when he was about 3 years old, marking the Advent pages.
One meaning of Advent is "the coming or arrival". I know that in the past several years without that nightly reminder to prepare for Christ's coming, I have been more caught up with preparing for our family coming home.
Getting rooms ready - food prepared - gifts bought & wrapped. (Well.. soon!) All of these things are good and necessary.
But, with God's gentle nudge, I've been convicted of my neglect in preparing for His coming.
Preparing food - but is my heart prepared?
Cleaning rooms - but is my heart free from sin?
Buying gifts for others - but am I aware of His "indescribable gift" throughout my day?
So I encourage you, as you see the Christmas lights, as you sit and look at your tree and as you listen to the Christmas carols on the radio - give thanks to God for the most precious gift of all.
Smile and rejoice in the real reason for giving.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thankful for a morning to sleep in.
Thankful for a good cup of coffee.
Thankful that I could get together for lunch with some friends that I rarely see.
Thankful that as friends we could start up again as though no time had passed since we’ve seen each other.
Thankful for that bond.
Thankful for the sunshine.
Thankful as I see Zach’s car driving up the driveway for him and Christina to spend a few days with us.
Thankful for a fire in the fireplace and a relaxing evening at home.
Thankful for technology that allows me to keep in contact with those far away.
Just plain THANKFUL!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
We can be thankful for so much, but who are we to give that thanks to?
Consider these verses.
(1 Chr. 16:34) O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
(Psa 30:11-12 NRSV) You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
(Psa 79:13 NRSV) Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
(Rom 14:6 NRSV) Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
(Rom 7:25 NRSV) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
(Rom 8:1 NRSV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Eph 5:19-20 NRSV) as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Th 5:18 NRSV) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I don’t think that one really understands the sacrifice of our parents until you become one yourself. It’s then and more so even now as a grandparent, that I look at situations and sometimes wish that I had been more sensitive to their needs or desires - to be more discerning about what I was or wasn’t doing and how that might affect them. I’m still learning and at times get myself so busy with my life that too much time goes by before I’ve really connected with them again.
I am so thankful to God for giving Dale and me the parents that we have. The first reason is written of in the verse above from Psalms. Both sets of parents love God and have set for us a standard. Dale and I were both brought up with regularly attending church and being involved in church activities. It wasn’t about whether I felt like going or not, it was just something that we always did. God used those things to turn our hearts to Him, helping us realize that we need Him to be our Redeemer & Savior.
Family and home have always been a priority for our parents. Birthday, holidays and special events were important and they were celebrated with family. Special traditions like little gifts at St. Nick’s Day or always having brats and hamburgers on Christmas are things that our boys grew up with.
Both parents were involved in the boy’s lives in so many different way, from taking them camping to teaching them woodworking skills. They’ve created memories for each of us to cherish.
I am so thankful for their willingness to share us. Those of you with both sides of the family in close proximity know that it’s hard to be at both homes at once. I can’t express how much that has meant to me knowing that they understand and are willing to work around schedules and busy times.
Hodding Carter, Jr. wrote:
"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings."
Both of our parents have blessed us with these.
I am thankful for all of you.
Thankful for your wisdom and direction over the years.
Thankful to God that you are here with us today.
Thankful for all that you’ve done for us and for what you mean to each of us.
I love you!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Before one becomes a parent, you think about all of the things that you hope to teach your child – to play ball, to cook, to read, to have a love of certain things, to love God. The truth is, some of those things, most of them, they could learn from anyone else. But, it is that child who also becomes the teacher. My teacher.
I am so thankful for our boys and all that they have taught me over the years. And I’m not talking about home schooling them. It is through loving and taking care of others that we learn what type of people we really are.
I remember the day that we brought Josh home from the hospital. We put him into the little antique cradle that we had and stood and watched him. Now what? I really didn’t know. I did know that as parents it was up to us to make sure that he was taken care of. He depended totally on us.
I had to learn that my life no longer was my own. Selfishness is not a character trait of a good parent. As a parent we regularly put off our desires and interests for the benefit of the child and family. Often those desires are able to be fulfilled as the family grows older. But, it’s also amazing at how those desires tend to change.
I’ve learned how impatient I could be and at times how quickly I could get upset or angry at things that really didn’t matter. Being a parent tended to regularly show me how much I needed to make sure that my life was in order. I knew that I needed to be spending time each morning with my God, who was the one who gave me my strength for the day. Oh, but I was still often reminded of my own sinfulness as I would deal with the childishness or sinful behavior of the boys. You have to make sure and recognize the difference between the two things – childishness will happen, they’re children. Sinfulness will also, but that needs to be dealt with in a different way. But, what about my sinfulness? I had to make sure that I dealt with that also.
I learned how quickly time goes by. My Mom often says that as you get older, time goes by more quickly. I don’t want that! Really!! I don’t.
I remember that there were days when the boys were small and it seemed like forever before I got a good night’s sleep.
I remember trying to cherish those quiet nights, rocking and singing.
I’ve learned that now - to cherish the times that we have together.
I am so thankful for Joshua and Lauren with little Ruth, and Zach and Christina.
I love being friends with them at this point in their lives.
I’m thankful for the homes that they are establishing and the choices that they have made.
I’m thankful that even though we are far apart, we are close.
I’m thankful every time that I answer the phone and I hear, “Hi, Mom.”
Monday, November 23, 2009
I am so thankful for my husband of 33 years, the Sweetheart of all my dreams – Dale.
We met when I was a Senior in high school and we had our first date 1 ½ years later.
About two years after that we got married.
Let me tell you a little about him.
He is a man who loves God and spends time regularly in prayer and God’s word. The convictions that he holds direct the steps that he takes in his life. I’m so thankful for his integrity and willingness to stand up for what is right and to stand against what is wrong. He is a man of his word.
He is an optimist and tends to see things working out rather than one who dwells on the negative.
Thankfully, he enjoys being in the kitchen. Not bugging me, but cooking, baking AND cleaning up. There have been mornings when I’ve gotten up and he has already finished washing the dishes that didn't go in the dishwasher. I do believe that he enjoys cooking more than I do. For years, Sundays have been his day for cooking. He takes care of breakfast and lunch. Yeah!!
When the boys were little, they helped him make blueberry pancakes each week. I never knew what shapes the pancakes might be in when they come off of the stove. In my mind I can still see Josh standing on a chair by the stove helping.
I learned to appreciate nature and wildlife more because of Dale. I remember one of our first dates we went out to the Kettle Moraine area and Dale brought along his camera. He set up his tri-pod and he showed me how he takes pictures of lightening. I was amazed! I often couldn’t see the deer that he saw in the trees and he told me what to look for in order to be able to see them. “Look for horizontal lines, the trees are vertical, but the deer’s back will be horizontal.” That really helped. I still use that information today.
I’m thankful that he is so easy going. Maybe that comes with being an optimist. He also has a very giving spirit and is always willing to lend a hand or share what we have.
We enjoy just spending time together. We don’t have to be doing something or talking in order to be comfortable with each other. He is more spontaneous than I am and I wonder how much fun I may have squelched over the years because of my hesitations.
There have been times of dancing around the living room or kitchen with CDs playing or even out on the deck with just the songs in our heads. There have been quiet moments standing outside looking at the sunsets. He even went outside with me at some insane hour just to look at the meteor showers this past year.
How did I get so blessed to be able to live life with him and call him not only my husband, but also my best friend.
I’m so thankful for him.
I love you, Honey!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I have so much to be thankful for!
So, on this Thanksgiving week, I am going to write on this blog each day concentrating on one specific area that I am thankful for. Now, as you can tell from past posts, I don’t write weekly, much less daily! So this might be a challenge for me.
There are so many things that can distract us from being thankful. I’ve often heard the phrase “have an attitude of gratitude”. I tend to think that I’m not one who complains a lot – maybe I’m wrong, but this week I’m going to make sure that I’m one who is thankful a lot!
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all of your work….But He (God) rested on the seventh day.” Ex. 20:8,9,11
I am so thankful that in God’s infinite wisdom He set aside a day for us to rest and to worship with others. I love going to church on Sundays. That’s where most of my other family is, my brothers and sisters in Christ – people I serve with, teens I meet with weekly, friends who also are striving to live Godly lives in difficult times.
I love to stand in the back at the start of worship and just watch. I see my “family” as they greet each other with smiles and hugs. I see them as they introduce themselves to new friends. I hear them as they get updates on each other’s lives. I see “family” who love being there as much as I do.
I love to worship through music.
I love music and starting the service with it. Music has a way of drawing me into the presence of Almighty God unlike just the spoken word. There are times when I don’t sing. I close my eyes and let the words and music speak to my heart, allowing God’s Spirit move this clumsy believer from my self-centeredness to my awareness of my being a sinner, quiet before my God.
I’m thankful for our pastors and families and how they minister to this body of believers and beyond. I’m so thankful that we are a mission minded church and support many families around the world.
I’m so thankful for my friends who I get the privilege of serving alongside of in Youth Ministries. We are a group of like-minded people who love youth and love each other. We have fun serving God while working with the most amazing group of teens.
We are a group of sinners, saved by grace. Even as I write that, it sounds so simple, “saved by grace”.
I love the old hymn “Grace Greater Than Our Sin”
Grace, grace, God’s grace.
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace, grace, God’s grace.
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
I am most thankful for my God!!
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth? Psalm 47:1-2
Saturday, November 21, 2009
We all went out hiking one of the afternoons and drove to Yellowstone National Park on another day. It was rather cold, but it was beautiful. We arrived at “Old Faithful” just minutes before it erupted. We were glad for that timing, because we really didn’t want to stand out in the cold for too long to see it.
But, most of all, we enjoyed just spending time together, getting to know little Ruth and see how much she’s grown in 3 months. We really didn’t have much planned so it was a relaxing time.
It is a joy to see Josh and Lauren in their roles as “mom & dad”. They are doing such a wonderful job and it is fun to watch them interact and play with Ruth. She is such a fun little girl. It didn’t take long for her to warm up to us, so we enjoyed being able to play with her as well.
Saturday night Seth & Cathy, from Yellowstone Alliance Adventures camp, came for pumpkin carving. Ruth was having a blast just playing with the seeds and pumpkin goo. Later, we got to know some more of their friends as several more came over for a game of Settlers of Catan. There were 10 of us around a table playing a double game.
I love getting to know who their friends are. And even though we were the “parents”, we felt very much a part of the group.
I knew that heading home would be difficult. I had my emotions under complete control – that is until I heard Ruth cry out as she was waking up Sunday morning. So much for my control! From then on tears were close at hand and there was that continual lump in the throat. You probably know what I’m talking about.
How did they do it years ago when there weren’t phones and computers with skype and e-mail?
When you didn’t know if you would ever see your family again?
I can understand why grandparents move to where their adult children live.
We love being a part of their lives and having them in ours. I love and cherish the time that we have together.
We are so blessed.
We are so thankful.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
One afternoon Dale picked 4, 5-gallon buckets of them. Then he spent many hours stripping the grapes off of the stems and into a bowl. I was helping with that for only a few of those hours. From there, they get cooked and mashed for a short time to open up the skins and let the juices out. Then they are strained through cloth, put into pitchers and refrigerated to let the sediment drop to the bottom. Then it is strained again. Now it is ready to be made into frozen grape jelly and juice.
A few days later after Dale picked more grapes, I canned wild grape jelly instead of freezing it. Canned jelly is easier than frozen to give to someone.
Dale is also trying grape wine for the first time. We’ll see how well that turns out.
Working with wild grapes is an awful lot of work. The grapes are quite small compared to regular grapes and also quite tart. It takes a lot of time to get them off the stems and have them ready to work with.
But, as with many things in life, it takes hard work and diligence to complete a project or see something through to the end.
Whether it’s cleaning the garage, canning jelly or salsa, or just struggling through life in my attempt to become more like my Maker, it is worth it.
I have a clean garage to enjoy each time I open up the door.
I have home-made canned goods to share.
I have a life that prayerfully reflects the image of my God whom I serve.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
There were just over 300, mostly Amish made quilts, beautiful furniture sets and many craft items such as rag rugs, woven baskets and small wooden items to be auctioned off. For quite a bit of the day there were 3 auctioneers calling at one time at different parts of the property. It made for a day of auditory overload.
We got there early. We were there to unload some of our things for the consignment auction of tools, misc. furniture and collectibles. Dale also had brought a rocking chair to sell that he had made last winter.
We’ve done this a few times before. Get there early, unload our things to sell, put up our chairs under the tent where the quilts are sold, eat some of the delicious Amish doughnuts, and then enjoy the action. There were at least 1000 people there this time. It was the year of the buyer. Prices were down compared to other years. Beautiful quilts were going for around $150 - $250 on average. I only heard 2 that went for about $500. That’s low for the quilts.
I moved back and forth from the big tent where the quilts and furniture were to the little tent which just had the crafts and small quilted items, then outside where Dale was most of the day watching and waiting for our things to go up for auction.
We’ve now decided that it’s best if we’re not there to watch our items being sold. There are things that Dale thought we should have gotten more for. He thought about buying back a few things so that he could sell them somewhere else - glad he didn't. Then there were things that went for more than we thought that they would.
But, they are just things.
Our garage has become less crowded as we’ve gotten rid of things that we had duplicates of or just didn’t really need anymore. But, as we go through things, the thought enters the mind, “I might need that some day.”
But, they are just things and we have too many of them.
It was our day to get rid of things.
We only bought 2 hot pads and a wooden clamp, for all of $12.
Things have a tendency to hold us back. If we didn’t have all of our things, how much easier would it be to serve God in a different way, in a different place? I don’t believe that God ever intended us to have so much in the way of earthly possessions. Jesus and His disciples didn’t have much. Yes, that was a different time – different world. But, what they did have, they quickly let go of and “followed” Him. I would like to think that I could and would do the same thing. But, I know that it would be hard for me.
There’s a song out by Matthew West called “The Motions”.
I love the words.
“I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"
I don’t want things to keep me just "going through the motions". I don’t want to be held back from what God wants in my life because I’m held captive by things that fill my house and my life.
I want God’s all consuming passion to fill me and move.
To help me see as He sees.
To take my eyes off of things and onto the people that He loves.
Monday, August 31, 2009
This morning I sat on my screen porch swing clutching my warm cup of coffee. It was just over 50 degrees, so I also had a fleece blanket close at hand in case I needed it. I love this time of the day. I had just been for my last walk of the summer with my mom and was ready now for time with my Maker - Creator God. I was a little more contemplative today as this is the last weekday morning before going back to work tomorrow. So even though it was rather cool, I was determined to be out on the porch.
This is the seasonal change that I like the least. There are too many changes at this time of the year. I’m one who likes things to stay the same. Status quo - don’t rock the boat – that type of thing.
I opened my prayer notebook and read the prayer requests that I had written since the beginning of summer. I was overwhelmed as I reread all that had been on my heart the last 2 ½ months.
*A young girl’s complication from brain surgery
*An unborn child’s heartbreaking diagnosis
*The death of a dear friend’s dad
*The flooding of a friend’s basement and the loss of almost everything that was in it
*A cousin diagnosed with cancer
*Mom-in-law’s broken leg and surgery
*Job loss for some we know
*Another friend’s dad passing away
*Praying for God to be honored in all things
*The start of a new marriage
*Direction for those seeking God’s guidance
*A teen's life-changing choices
*Students who I’ve had the privilege of knowing and loving heading to college
*Changes for families that we know
But, there were also many “thanks” recorded.
*The celebration of Zach & Christina’s wedding
*Being in Holland, MI early to help with last minute details of the wedding
*Time with family all together
*Getting to know little Ruth - our granddaughter
*For a dear friend making all of the delicious food for the WI reception
*For “my girls” who helped serve that day
*For time with God
*For worshipping with others on a Sunday
*Healing physically in those we love
*For time camping with family
Dale and I have recently sat and talked about this new season. Not about it being Fall, but about our new “season”. We are officially empty nesters. Where do we go from here? What do we do now that we are at this point? In what direction do we sense God leading us? And how do we best accomplish what He lays on our hearts?
One of my requests from the summer was that we “not run aimlessly” but to be deliberate in how and where we serve.
None of us knows what the next season holds. But, my prayer will always be that in all things, God would be honored ~ in how I respond, in how I live, in how I serve the One who gave His all.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Yes, but it was Governor Dodge this year for our camping outing with family. We, along with Mom & Dad and my brother, Terry and wife, Sandy spent 5 days at the state park. It had been quite a few years since we’d been there. The last time we were there the kids were all along and we had an uninvited guest during the night. We left a van window open and a 4 legged masked bandit got in and proceeded to open a bag of garbage that we were going to be taking out in the morning. Unfortunately the garbage had fish guts in it from a successful fishing outing. The van was a mess and later in the heat of the day it was also rather fragrant - in a not so nice way.
But, this year there were no visitors of that kind.
My brother, Kim and wife, Missy came 2 times for supper and bonfire. They live close by. Saturday we had supper at their house.
My niece, Eva and friend, Jason joined us for supper on Wednesday night.
None of them were masked and we didn’t have fish.
We each take turns making supper for the group. That is so nice. I only have to plan one supper.
The men golfed while we shopped on Thursday. The Land’s End store is headquartered nearby and they had their annual sale. Who knew?!? There were some great deals on their outlet prices.
We also hit a local winery. Well, we didn’t hit it, just drove up and walked in. It took us a while to find it winding through the hills.
After supper we usually played the game, Jocker. It’s a board game- sort of, with cards & pegs you move around. It’s Men vs. Women. We can get rather competitive. I do believe that the women ruled! ;)
It rained some of the time which limited Dale’s fishing. Actually he didn’t fish at all, hindered at first by the fact that he forgot his fly-rods. Oops!
Was it me that had taken them out of the truck a week before and didn’t put them with the rest of his fishing gear?
It wasn’t until he stopped at a bait shop and found rods that his hopes were again alive. But then it rained 2 inches during the night and the streams would have been too muddy for successful fishing.
So thankfully his fly-rod selection has not expanded – again.
The terrain is beautiful with many rolling hills. It’s called the Driftless Area. Apparently the glaciers weren’t that far south which meant they left no “drift” behind. (that’s the rocks, sand etc… they push along to fill in the valleys)
Mineral Point is one of the state’s oldest towns and is known for the mining of lead and zinc oxide.
It’s now home to many artists who you can observe creating in their shops. They also offer many different types of classes for people to take to learn a new craft.
There also was a great place where we enjoyed a pizza from a wood fired oven. The sculpture around the oven in the picture was created by one of the artists that we talked to who was originally from our area.
*From the Christmas Carol